On Tuesday, November 13, the Aerospace Industries Association held its third "Faces of the Industrial Base" outreach event on Capitol Hill. The day featured meetings with Congressional staffers and members of Congress at which leading defense suppliers warned how budget austerity is adversely impacting their ability to participate in the supply chain and attract a new generation of skilled workers. The suppliers in attendance included GSE Dynamics, UEC Electronics, Harry Krantz Company, TW Metals, Pro-Fab Inc., Innoventor, Patriot Machine, Zero Point Frontiers Corporation, NATEL, Microsemi, and McCann Aerospace Machining Corp.
AIA President and CEO Marion C. Blakey testified before the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee November 13 regarding sequestration's long-term effects on the defense industrial base. Blakey emphasized that budget conversations have not adequately focused on the defense suppliers, companies that constitute the majority of the industrial base and have taken the brunt of sequestration budget cuts. Blakey also noted the negative impact sequestration has on defense modernization and R&D programs. "The total reduction in modernization spending over the next five years could be as high as $147 billion,” she said. “Ultimately, slashing procurement and R&D will threaten our industry's ability to deliver these capabilities in the future."
The next time you travel in the air or near coastal waters, you can thank the professionals in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Coast Guard for helping ensure your safety. Every single day, FAA employees review aircraft and component designs to ensure their airworthiness; air traffic controllers guide our aircraft through the skies; and hazardous materials inspectors ensure that cargo placed on those aircraft are not endangering passenger safety. Likewise, the U. S. Coast Guard protects us when we purchase a recreational boat or travel on a cruise ship. The service is on the scene when an oil spill or marine accident puts coastal lands and properties at risk. They interdict cargoes of illicit drugs headed toward the United States. And their aircraft and surface ships pluck us from the waters, often at great risk to their aircrews, when disaster strikes.
Easing the sequestor’s near-term effects under the congressional budget deal reached in late December was welcome news for our industry providing a measure of relief for important federal national security, civil aviation and space functions. But although we won’t be facing the full brunt of sequestration’s worst two years—or another government shutdown for the foreseeable future—defense spending will still be $30 billion below the President’s budget request for the year, and funding for FAA, NASA and NOAA will still be on the downward arc that began in 2010. That said, the deal represents a first step toward a long-term agreement that could eliminate sequestration altogether, reverse the current “investment deficit” in programs that make our nation strong and secure, and finally address the mandatory spending accounts that are the real drivers of our nation’s debt and deficit problems.